Symbolic rebuke comes amid growing Republican opposition to Senate trial of ex-president, set to begin next month.
A Republican legislator from the US state of South Carolina has been censured by the state branch of the party after he voted to impeach former United States President Donald Trump earlier this month.
Congressman Tom Rice was one of 10 Republicans in the US House of Representatives who voted in favour of impeaching Trump on January 13 for “incitement of insurrection” concerning the deadly riot at the US Capitol this month.
On Saturday, the South Carolina Republican Party (SCGOP) said it had formally censured Rice for his vote.
“We made our disappointment clear the night of the impeachment vote,” SCGOP Chairman Drew McKissick said in a statement shared on social media, about the symbolic rebuke.
“Trying to impeach a president, with a week left in his term, is never legitimate and is nothing more than a political kick on the way out the door.”
Today the SCGOP Executive Committee voted to formally censure Congressman Rice for his impeachment vote. See below for SCGOP Chairman @DrewMcKissick’s full statement: pic.twitter.com/lNzDW80ljl
— South Carolina Republican Party (@SCGOP) January 30, 2021
Rice has been a staunch supporter of Trump during the former president’s term in the White House, but he said on January 13 that he voted for impeachment because the Capitol riot was “inexcusable”.
“I have backed this President through thick and thin for four years. I campaigned for him and voted for him twice. But, this utter failure is inexcusable,” Rice said in a statement at that time.
Trump’s impeachment for the Capitol insurrection – his second as president – has divided the Republican Party.
Republican Senator Mitt Romney has said he believes moving ahead with an impeachment trial in the US Senate is “appropriate”, while other Republicans have questioned the constitutionality of proceedings taking place when Trump is no longer in office.
Members of the party have also argued that impeachment would hurt an already deeply divided country and urged Democrats to drop their initiative.
But despite that opposition, the Democrat-controlled House sent the impeachment article to the Senate last week and Trump’s Senate trial is expected to begin in February.
To be convicted, the Senate needs a two-thirds majority of support. That means more than a dozen Republicans will need to join Democrats in voting in favour of impeachment.
Rice is not the only Republican who voted for impeachment to face backlash.
Liz Cheney, currently the number three Republican in the House of Representatives, has been censured by the Republican Party in at least three of the 23 counties in her home state of Wyoming.
She also faces growing calls to be stripped of her role as chair of the party’s conference.
House Representative Fred Upton has also been censured by the Republican Party in Allegan County, one of six counties in Upton’s Michigan district, for voting to impeach Trump.